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Piled higher than head-height on every side was mail. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it, spilling out onto the cold concrete floor. (Clive Barker, The Great and Secret Show)

I can't understand the construction of these sentences above. Why is "mail" at the end of the sentence, so far from the "piled" and why didn't the author use "were" before "spilling" to make a complete sentence?

I suppose the meaning would remain the same if I rewrote this sentence as in:

Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it were spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

or

Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side, with sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

or

Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side, sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

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Writing "Piled higher than head-height on every side was mail" instead of "Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side" adds more focus and drama to the word "mail". It makes the sentence seem more "exciting".

mango pen 189why didn't the author use "were" before "spilling" to make a complete sentence?

Probably to make the text feel more racy.

mango pen 189Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it were spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.
or
Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side, with sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

Yes.

mango pen 189Mail was piled higher than head-height on every side, sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

This one is technically possible but in practice reads a little awkwardly to me.

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mango pen 189I can't understand the construction of these sentences above. Why is "mail" at the end of the sentence, so far from the "piled" and why didn't the author use "were" before "spilling" to make a complete sentence?

When you write a novel, you write thousands of sentences. To keep the readers' interest you have to provide some variety in the constructions you use. Otherwise, the story gets boring.

There's nothing to get excited about here. As you read more and more books you'll find these kinds of constructions again and again, and they won't surprise you in the slightest.

CJ

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mango pen 189Piled higher than head-height on every side was mail. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it, spilling out onto the cold concrete floor. (Clive Barker, The Great and Secret Show)I can't understand the construction of these sentences above. Why is "mail" at the end of the sentence, so far from the "piled".

This is known as complement preposing, where the complement of "was" is put before the subject when its basic position would be after the verb. A preposed complement typically serves as a link to the preceding discourse and is closely related to information previously introduced.

Consider Barker's text: Randolph stepped into the room. It was large, painted the same bilious yellow and battleship gray as every other office and corridor in the Omaha Central Post Office. Not that much of the walls was visible. Piled higher than head-height on every side was mail. Sacks, satchels, boxes and carts of it, spilling out onto the cold concrete floor.

Now you can see that the preposed element piled higher than head-height on every side is closely linked to the previous statement Not that much of the walls was visible; in fact it provides a reason for much of the walls not being visible.

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